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Social Media is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

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Hey everybody, Katie Lance here, founder and CEO of Katie Lance Consulting and the Get Social Smart Academy. And you are listening to the Katie Lance Podcast. I am so excited today. You guys, I am thrilled to be chatting with a dear friend of mine, Karen Bigos. And for those of you who do not know, Karen, I will tell you that few realtors know more about, Millburn short Hills and Summit than Karen does. People actually call her, as a 411 service to gather info about the communities or to ask a trivia question, uh, and who better to call someone than someone who’s grown up in the area and has lived in her area for over 50 years. Uh, it’s really hard to find someone who’s more knowledgeable, relatable, driven, energetic, and creative, and Karen, uh, she’s the consummate realtor professional, and it’s been really great on a personal level to really get to know Karen through social media and through so many in-person events over the years. So, so thrilled to have you with us today. Welcome Karen.

Thank you so much, Katie. I am so honored and flattered that you asked me and I, I always feel like I’m going to just be telling people everything you’ve taught me since I’ve been following your advice for the last 12 years, and it’s worked so beautifully. So thank you for, for always putting out such great information to all of us. It really makes a big difference. It, it raises the bar a lot in our industry.

Oh, thank you. Thank you so much. Okay. So for people who know you, or they’re not familiar with, with who you are, can you tell people a little bit about, you know, how you got into real estate and like what your business looks like?

Well, my mom was a real estate agent going back to 1969 and she had a very successful career in the early days in the Melbourne short Hills market where we lived and where I’ve been my whole life. And, uh, my mom was from Philly. My dad was from Brooklyn and they picked Millburn because there was a Saks fifth avenue and they figured if Sachs did enough research to move there, they should move there too. And it was right in the middle of right in the middle of both of their commutes to see their family. So my mom was a real estate broker, as you know, when I was a little girl. And when I got out of college, I had a very short job at channel 13 public television in New York. And they gave me a promotion, asked me to work an extra day, but no extra money.

And I said to my mom, this is ridiculous. I’m working six days a week. I’m not making extra money. By the time I commute and pay taxes, she goes, get a real estate license until you find something better to do. And that was 37 years ago. I never found anything better to do. And so I worked, um, for a number of years and then I took over and started my own business. Uh, first at Weichert realtors where I was for 10 years. Then I was at Bergdorf realtors for 12 years. And then I opened up town Realty group with a partner. And, um, things changed quite a bit. Cause I had my first baby at 44 and I realized it was going to be a little more complicated then. And soon after that, uh, we, you know, Facebook videos, everything like everything I’d ever learned completely changed and thanks to you and other people I realized I had to get on Facebook and I had to be smart about it and not just always post about real estate.

So it, it started off with me just playing to get my high school reunion together. And then all of a sudden I sold a million dollar house and I thought, Ooh, I think this might be better than just making friends. And then I started pages and groups, and now I have 18,000 people that follow my different, um, pages and groups. And it’s been a lot of fun, even though it’s a lot of work. It’s not, it’s not just fun. It’s a lot of work. I get a lot of messages, a lot of requests and a lot of, um, no non moneymaking time suck activities that the show houses, cause I’m busy, busy answering questions and helping people. But I really do. I like that aspect of it. I probably donate about 20 hours a week to promoting my communities and helping, you know, spread the word about things. Since I have a lot of fans and followers, a lot of people ask me, can I help them? And I do. And it’s been, you know, it’s been nice. I’m not always saying, oh, you have to help me back. I just, you know, ages of my community outreach to promote and

Yeah. Yeah. Well, so I wanna, I want to kind of unpack that a little bit because, so you’re running this boutique brokerage and you’re actively selling to right. You’re still selling and listing and selling and then you’re running as far as social media goes, you know, I, I can totally relate to what you’re saying. You know, the more you put out there, the more active you are, the more, the more activity happens, right? The more messages and notifications and so right. How do you manage that? Do you have an assistant that works with you or is it, or do you mainly do it yourself or do you have a team? We have

A team of six and I ask everyone on the team, can they like, or comment or share? And so, so our group is promoting and sharing and liking what we’re doing, but because I’m kind of spread on a lot of different pages, I helped my chamber of commerce with, uh, promoting what’s going on in the business community. Then I have my own community page. And one of the places where I spend a lot of time where nobody else I think can really do it is I have what’s called Millburn short Hills, old days, which is a group of just under 4,000 people. And we just talk about, um, what’s going on in terms of the history. And I share anniversaries, like people who’ve been married over 50 years, anybody who turns 80 or up, we share all the birthdays. Uh, I hear a lot of obituaries, which is kind of sad.

So very often I’ll share a post and people don’t want to comment. So they send me a private message. So I could get like 500 likes and 35 messages. And I have to answer those messages and they don’t really want to comment because there’s somebody or something they don’t want to say, and they don’t want to hurt someone, but they want to tell me, so that’s a big part of it. And I, as you said, which I have repeated to anybody who’s ever asked me, this is not a sprint, it’s a marathon, it’s a daily marathon. It’s, you know, there are days when I don’t answer. And, um, all of a sudden, like, you know, not to be bold here, but like all hell breaks loose. You know, somebody says something that’s like completely crazy and I’m off on an appointment for three hours and I get back and I have a hundred messages and texts.

You got to get her off and people are reporting other people. And, you know, during the political, uh, the climate of COVID and politics and race, and I mean, it was very hard for me to get on and talk about George Floyd. I cried and cried and cried when that happened. And I, like, I knew I had to say something because people were messaging me, but, you know, there were some things that are just so awful, like hurricanes and fires and, you know, you know, I try to promote a little bit of everything, but there are times when I’m just so heavy hearted with the, with the material and with the comments, and it’s been a really volatile, tough year, you know, it’s, it has, it’s been a more complicated 16 months than probably any time in my whole life. Everything has just been so inflamed. And so in your face, cause social media is so outspoken and so opinionated and I tried to just be positive all the time.

I think it’s great with social media that you, you know, adapted to that, you know, and that you don’t shy away from necessarily some, some tough topics, but sometimes that’s okay too, you know, and, and it’s all, and like you said, having some rules, having some parameters, uh, you know, and having some systems in place to, you know, to, to kind of, uh, uh, help with some of that I’m sure helps as well. So no, I’m, and I’m glad you brought that up. Cause I, I think I would imagine you’re not the only person that has been challenged this last year and a half with what to post. It just didn’t seem really relevant to post, like I’m going to post a new recipe, you know, in the middle of all this. Right. Well,

Like as you had your pod, um, your webinar today about, uh, you know, how to create a social media calendar, you know, you look at the month and you say, okay, well there’s Juneteenth and there’s the full moon and there’s father’s day and there’s flag day and you’ve got all these different things and then something horrible happens. And you can’t just put up like a happy post about like a recipe or, you know, are you flying your flag? And somebody just got shot or something, you know, something really bad happens. So, um, so I have to really be careful that I don’t post anything too controversial if I don’t have a lot of time to respond, then the whole page goes out of control. And it’s very upsetting when I finally tuned back in, cause I’m not on every hour of every day, but I am on at least 20 hours a week, maybe five, you know, with, with Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, I really don’t use Pinterest. I’m starting tick-tock. And because if you I’m doing more with YouTube, which, uh, I know I have to get over this white hair, I just let the hair blow in the wind, whatever color it is.

So that’s a great segue to kind of talk about like, where are you spending the most time? Because I see a lot on Facebook. I think that’s where you and I first connected. I know that some great, like you said, you’ve got, you know, in a private group, but you also have some really great public, uh, pages that are great with community information, real estate information. Are you still spending the majority of your time on Facebook or, you know, you kind of said you’re dipping your toe into the other waters. What what’s kind of working for you right now.

Well, I do a little, I don’t do as much. I don’t really have as much engagement on Instagram as I do on Facebook. So as I, as I reviewed, you know, what I’ve been doing for the last 10 years, Facebook is where I’ve had the most engagement, the most referrals. And I get people just send me a message on Facebook. Uh, can you list my house? You know, can you show me houses? So I have to check all the time because I do get a lot of those inquiries. And then I get a lot of people that just say, you know, I’m selling my house to my neighbor. Can you give me advice? Well, you know, that’s not really a good use of my time, but sometimes it leads to something else. Yeah. I don’t get as much business from LinkedIn or Twitter or Instagram, but I go on there weekly.

And I feel that it’s important that if somebody Googles me and that’s, if somebody is big on a particular channel, I have lists of people who are more active in certain places. Like I have a husband and wife, I sold a house through the husband’s only on LinkedIn. The wife is on Instagram and Facebook. So I follow both of them. And I try to like, or comment, I have a list of maybe, you know, 200 to 300 people out of whatever, many thousands of people that I, you know, that I want to see and that I want to talk to. So I definitely look for those people and like, and comment, and they’re in my, you know, they’re in my newsfeed or my, you know, my stream. So I see them more often, but I noticed that sometimes I haven’t seen anyone in a long time and I don’t know how the algorithms change all the time, but I do keep a list of, of people that I’m, you know, I mean, I just got a call from two different friends of mine from kindergarten who I’ve been in touch with for over 20 years through social, not social media, social media.

I got involved with them 2008. That’s when we, you know, I ran one of my reunions. So then 2018, we had another reunion and I’ve literally been kind of following them. And both of their moms are now saying it’s time to sell. So I’m working on both of those listings and I attribute it completely to Facebook because, because otherwise we wouldn’t talk and we wouldn’t call and we wouldn’t be emailing each other. You know, there, I went to kindergarten with them. I’ve known them my whole, since we graduated from high school, there really hasn’t been much contact except for our reunions and running my high school reunions has been very lucrative. I sold, um, over 250 of my high school classmates and friends and parents, you know, sold them houses, referred them houses. So that’s been really, I most people look online and I just look at my old high school yearbook.

And I find people that I can call. That was my first wow moment. You know, like the yearbook was just full of people whose parents still lived in town after 40 50 years. And I just started targeting the parents, but they weren’t on social media. Their kids were right and their kids have been living here anymore. So that was a big part of, uh, continuing the networking. And the kids actually ended up making the decision for their parents after a certain time. A lot of the state, I think last year I sold houses, uh, where the people had, there were three houses in particular, one bought in 19 58, 1 bought in 1957 and one born in 1961. And they were all these nice older ladies had died and their kids hired me from, from a distance to handle the transaction. So it was like, you know, going back home into time.

That’s awesome. Have you ever, have you ever calculated how much business has come from social media? I mean, you’ve got, obviously it’s, it’s hard cause it’s not just social media, right. You’re, you’re doing the work. You’re calling, keeping in touch with people and it’s one of those things that’s, it’s hard to quantify, but I’m just curious. Have you ever put a number behind what’s? Yeah, I

Have. And I stopped counting a couple of years ago when I got to 100 million, I stopped counting. What would identify is all of my networking and all of my high school relationships were fortified and strengthened through social media. The relationship was there, but them seeing what I’m doing in the community and seeing what I’m doing in my old days group and seeing my emails or whatever, um, has kept us in touch, but they also identify me as a local realtor and someone that they can trust. And so one of my high school friends, 11 years ago sent me a Facebook message and said, I have friends moving from San Francisco to New York, New Jersey. The guy works for NASDAQ. Do you, can you help him? Sure, no problem. I sold them a house 11 years ago. Uh, it was two and a half million dollars, and then 11 years later, they came back to me and sold it and we sold it for more.

And so that was a definite social media, like, and then I’m hopefully going to sell them another house. But, um, that was it’s mostly Facebook honestly. And my group, you know, um, Snapchat is not going to buy houses for me. You know, I’m not looking for teenagers and 20 year olds. You know, my, my preference is to list houses and I’m listing houses typically with older people who are maybe, you know, over 60, 70, 80, I sell houses too. I mean, I don’t mean to say I don’t sell houses, but it’s typically the children or a personal referral of someone who I’ve met through, um, through social media. Like I have one family or transactions with they’re only on Instagram. So I make sure to like, and comment on their stuff. And, and it’s easy too, cause they’re the nicest people and they have the cutest grandchildren and they take great sunsets, all the stuff that dogs, kids, sunset food, um, that’s

Easy. Right. You know, if you’re posting, you know, if you’re posting like obscure stuff about, you know, like dead animals, I’m not watching that, you know, probably don’t listing either. Like I prefer to, you know, well, it’s like, it’s that old saying, like your vibe attracts your tribe, you know, and you probably attract, I would imagine just by being who you are and your, you know, your personality and, and just, you know, the way you come across, you’re, you know, you’re attracting, I would imagine lots of like-minded folks, uh, you know, to who, who, you know, can resonate with you and relate to you as well, which, uh, which I think is great. Um, I wanted to just kinda ask you something, cause you mentioned a second ago that you make, you have this list. Um, and he kinda said it very casually. You’re like, I have a list of like a couple hundred people and I would love to read a kind of like, talk about that a little bit more.

Like if you, so in this list you actually have like their social media handles listed or, you know, are you like actively like looking at that list? Like, I guess I’m just curious, because I think that’s a really great way to kind of stay organized. I know you can make lists and Facebook and stuff like that, but, well, you know, you just seem like you have a really good sense of like, oh, you’re like, oh, so-and-so’s on this. Like, you just have a really good sense of where people are, which I’ve never really heard an agent or broker say that specific, which I think is really cool. And that probably attributes to a lot of your success that you’ve had,

Well, not to give away my secrets, but, um, I, um, I have a project manager who works with me and she, and I went through the tax record of, I don’t know how many streets, Megan, a hundred, at least a hundred streets, the streets that I’ve listed and sold houses on. And I’ve said, okay, let’s find all the people who’ve been in their house before 1985, who obviously have been there a long time. And the market’s good. Now, there, there are a few different levels to this. So one is, I, I mail something to those people. Two is I try to get their name and number. And very often I know them also sometimes I don’t, but when they’ve been in town a long time, so I know them, um, um, I’m trying to look for people. Who’ve been in their house a long time.

And then if they have children, I’m trying to find their children and invite them to my Facebook pages and groups. So they see what I’m doing and like, and comment. So it’s a, I wouldn’t call it, um, a very formal list. A lot of it is actually in my head, but I do have, I do have, I mean, I, it’s funny. I was just working on it right now. Like I literally, I’m showing you, I literally have this. So I have the name of the person and their address. Then I have their kids’ names. And what I’ll do is I’ll be sitting on social media. Now I don’t, I don’t think likes, really do anything. And I think you taught me that don’t just go randomly liking things. Like

What you notice is that really, if you get 20, I mean, you might notice it. It’s just not as meaningful as like a comment, right? Well, not if I post four or five photos and somebody likes all five of them, I have to see all these notifications, this one, like this one, like this one, like this one. So sometimes I post like 15 photos of, of like a garden. And then I get 15 likes from one person, no comment. I’m like, did she say anything? Or did you just like, like, like, like, like,

You know, I try not to like more than three or four things. Cause I know those notifications can be like overwhelming if a lot of people like a lot of stuff, but I do comment and it doesn’t have to be a long comment as you’ve so willingly shared, just say, wow, great photos. Or, oh, it looks like fun or hope you’re feeling better or just something so that your name pops up and they’re not just getting like a like notification. And then also when you make, you know, so I go through these, these lists that I have, and I try to mail, uh, information. One of the things we, we hooked up with a company that will lend people the money to fix up their house, to sell it, no charge. And we call it the town group listing advantage. It’s the smart home advantage. So we have this group that will just give people 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000.

They have a group of investors and they fix up houses and they get paid at closing. So I sent that to a lot of people who have lived in their house a long time, you know, have you been in your house 30 years? You probably haven’t pulled out your oil tank or replaced your windows, or maybe you have, but you know, you need to do your driveway or your landscaping. And so a lot of them don’t want to spend the money and, or don’t have the money and we’re offering to do that for them, you know, work as the, the, uh, the point person to get the work done and help them get the house on the market and then help them sell it higher. And so I keep in touch with a lot of people. It’s, it’s, it is a kind of a mind-boggling, um, system.

But, uh, I have, you know, I obviously check Facebook messenger a lot and I get texts, messages, emails, and then a lot of phone calls, older people like to use the phone. They don’t, you know, so I deal with a lot of old people just by answering the phone and, uh, you know, so I have different, different ways of communicating with people, but I actually do try to call, um, a lot of older people on the phone, my old clients, and, and, you know, just make quick phone calls and say hello. And I think that goes a long way.

Yeah. And I think it goes, it goes to like meeting people where they’re at, you know, some people, like you said, um, especially just depending on their generation are just more comfortable on the phone. You know, they’re not going to be on social media. However, like you said, you know, for a lot of the folks, their kids are involved in many times in the financial or just, you know, decision-making process. So realizing that those, those of that group is possibly on Facebook or Instagram. Um, and then, and then to what you said, just, I think that, you know, being really relevant, not just calling people for the sake of calling or, you know, posting for the sake of posting, it always seems when I watch what you do on social media, even though I’m on KET in California, you’re in New Jersey, it just, it’s always seems very intentional, very relevant, very timely.

It’s not like, oh, I’m just going to post this just to post, you know, so being intentional is what is the name of the game? So there’s people who listened to our podcast and many of them are just overwhelmed by social media. They feel like it takes too much time. It’s not worth it. People feel like, is it, you know, gosh, am I, am I late to the game? Like, and so I’m just wondering if you have any advice for someone who might be feeling kind of overwhelmed with social media and feeling like how can I be a successful real estate agent and also be effective on social media? Just any thoughts that you might have or any advice you could share?

Well, I do have an agent who joined me about six months ago, who hadn’t really been on social media at all. And she got involved in Facebook and Instagram, and I said, you know, what you really have to try to understand is what are you, what are you trying to accomplish? You know, part of what I’m trying to do is business. I also really want to stay in touch with my high school and college friends legitimately. Like I don’t expect to, I have one really good friend who was looking for a place. And I said, you know what? I’m really busy now. And, and you know, no, you have a cousin, who’s a realtor. Use your cousin. I will love no matter what don’t use me and then have your cousin be mad at me. And so, but, but, but that is, you know, I don’t need to have every single last transaction.

I really liked social media for the connections and the fun and the, you know, but I would tell a new agent, don’t try to do everything. And I, and as you have suggested, you know, use videos when you can use, um, you know, text and, uh, some animation and you know, something to make it more interesting and try to think of, would you want to see this? Is this something that, you know, cause sometimes I look at these posts and I’m thinking, why is this person showing me their foot? Like, I don’t really want to see their foot, but okay.

I totally think the same thing. I’m like, why didn’t you just share that? I know I’m guessing sitting on the toilet and he had no toilet paper and he used a towel like, oh my God. Overshare, overshare.

And I thought to myself, okay, I don’t even want ID, friended him. Like, it just gross me out of it that he shared that. So if he wants to list this house with me, I said, that’s okay, whatever you want. But I don’t mean to be rude. Like some people like do stuff that is just there’s me. So I think you can, you know, you have to plan it like, okay, so laundry is going to take this much time. And grocery shopping is going to take that much time and I’m going to walk my dog and I’m going to, you know, make this many phone calls and this many appointments and after 30 minutes or an hour, you just start to have to shut it off. And then yeah, go back later. I don’t get messenger on my phone anymore. That was a big help for me.

I get on my laptop or my, or my desktop and I do my messages. And then when, when I’m on my phone, it was too much with texting email, phone calling and messenger. I felt like I really couldn’t get anything done. I took messenger off my phone, which was a huge savings of time. I’m sure I probably have been late to answer certain messages and I just respond and say, Hey, listen, you know, I’ve been on appointments all day today. If you want to reach me quickly, text me, I’m sorry. You know? And then I try and if they don’t text, then I try to find out what’s the best way for me to reach you, call me, email me, whatever. But, um, I’m really, my first choice is texting always. And then, uh, email and then messenger is, you know, but I do get a lot of messages on Facebook messenger and I get messages on LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, like I’m getting messages in so many different places that I just shut it all off. And I tell everyone, just text me. Yeah,

It can be overwhelming. And it is almost like opening Pandora’s box because you’re at the point where you are getting a ton of business because of what you’re doing on social media. But like you said, the flip side is you’re getting a ton of notifications and messages. And so you have, at some point you just be on your phone all day long. I mean, that’s not healthy for anybody. No. None of us got into business for ourselves. So we could just be on our phone twenty four seven. So setting parameters, I love what you said to take a semester off your phone. I might need to do that because I feel the same way. Like just having some, some boundaries, you know, I think is super healthy and that’s gonna, that’s why you’ve been in the business a long time. You know, you you’re, you’ve got to have that quality of life.

I think that’s so important. It’s so it’s so fun doing these interviews because you know, it just reminds me that there’s so many different ways to do, to do business, you know? Um, and it’s, it’s it’s yeah. I mean, we talked to some people, like you said, some people don’t have are connected to a lot of realtors. Some people, you know, are not, some people do Facebook or some people are like, you know, totally done with Facebook. I mean, it’s just so fascinating to hear what works for different people. And I love what you said a second ago. Like, you don’t have to do everything, you know, pick one thing. And I think you said also like, think about like, what do you want to accomplish? And when you were talking about, um, connecting with friends from your high school and college, it just made me really nostalgic.

It’s like, that’s why we all got on social media back in the day, was to connect with people we hadn’t seen in a long time. And so I love that you said that it’s just, that’s still such a powerful way to generate businesses, to be meaningful, keep in touch with people that already know you. And as you said, four to five, that relationship I’m so grateful that you share those stories with us today. And you shared your time with us today. Karen, I know we could probably talk for another hour. I like I’m loving all your stories. I just, I think you just brought up so many great points here today.

Thank you so much. I really appreciate having the chance to talk to you. And, and you’ve inspired me more than anybody else. I really have to say that your advice has just been so warm and genuine and helpful without being pushy. And I do think people just don’t give enough on social media. They ask for too much. And I keep trying to give and hope that something will come back from that. And it has. So that’s really the message, you know, give and you will receive.

Love that. I couldn’t agree more. And I so appreciate you giving your time and, and just sharing your time with us today. It’s been a, it has been awesome. So for all of our listeners, if you enjoyed this podcast, the best thing you can do is share it out. Tell a friend, uh, feel free to take a screenshot. If you’re listening to this on your mobile device, posted on Facebook, Instagram, wherever you’re at, tag me, tag Karen, uh, we’re going to put Karen’s contact information below her websites and her social social channels. That way you can connect with her. And, uh, and of course, if you’re listening to this and you really enjoyed the podcast, we would also love for you to give us a review over on apple podcasts. So thank you so much for tuning in and again, Karen, thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you. It was my pleasure. So, so fun. Thank you.

All right, friends until next time. We’ll see you soon. Bye for now.


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